• Jeffrey Zalles

Turn a $10,000 investment into $10-billion in just five years.

Imagine you have $10,000 sitting idly in your bank account. You might invest it in the stock market where historic returns have averaged around 7% annually. Or you could trade that gas guzzler in for a hybrid that will save you as much as $1200 a year in fuel cost. How about upgrading your home appliances? Whatever you choose, you will likely get a reasonable return, but would you be able to turn that $10,000 into billions? Is it even possible?

For years, Duke Energy dumped toxic coal ash into six pits scattered throughout North Carolina, ignoring the potential risk to our health and to our environment. Then came Hurricane Florence and sure enough, the pits overflowed and contaminated the water supply. What the utility did may or may not have been a violation of the law but there is no doubt that their actions constituted gross negligence.

Now a court has ordered Duke to clean up the mess. So, what does Duke do? They take $10,000 and donate it to Senator Bill Rabon and, like magic, a bill appears in the state legislature that shifts the burden of paying for the cleanup to consumers, saving Duke and its shareholders an estimated 10 billion dollars over the next five years.

Now that’s what I call a return on investment!

Folks, we need to stop thinking of the next election as one of Democrats vs. Republicans, liberals vs. conservatives, left vs. right, blue vs. red. No, the coming election must be a referendum on good governance. Will we demand honest government, or will we continue to turn a blind eye to corruption? Will we reelect politicians like Bill Rabon or will we finally say “enough!” and vote for those who will put the interests of their constituents above those of big corporations?

Next year, the choice will be yours. Please choose wisely.